By Rebecca Heilweil
Amid growing uncertainty over Brexit, the fear of a nuclear Iran, immigration, and trade were all key themes of a press conference between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday in London.
The two leaders emphasized the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States with Trump calling the countries’ bond “the greatest alliance the world has ever known.”
The president also expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of a wide-ranging UK-U.S. free trade deal. The U.S. is the UK’s second-largest trading partner, after the European Union.
“It was a certainly weird end to kind-of a weird relationship that May and Trump have had,” David Graham, a politics writer at the Atlantic, told Cheddar. "Trump seemed a little bit of subdued. He spoke out in a few moments. You really saw him coming alive when he was talking about his feud with the Mayor of London, and when he was talking about Mexico.”
“It seemed like both of them were really on their best behavior and trying to put a good face on a relationship that is, in fact, fairly troubled right now,” said Graham.
Other British leaders were not as welcoming as May. The leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn — who Trump called a “negative force” — spoke at an anti-Trump protest in London’s Trafalgar Square. The city's Mayor Sadiq Khan has also repeatedly criticized Trump in recent days after the president called the official a “stone cold loser.”
British lawmakers have repeatedly delayed Brexit, raising concerns that the country may leave the economic confederation without stabilizing important trade and travel norms, or establishing a gradual transition period.
Trump endorsed Brexit even if an exit deal can’t be negotiated. “It wants to have its own identity. It wants to have its own borders. It wants to run its own affairs,” said Trump. “I believe it would be good for the country.”
May, however, continued to impress the importance of leaving the European Union with a deal.
The two leaders also diverged on the Iran nuclear deal, which the UK continues to support. Trump was asked whether British lawmaker’s more dovish approach to Huawei would limit intelligence sharing between the U.S. and the UK
“We’re going to have absolutely an agreement on Huawei and everything else. We have an incredible intelligence relationship and will be able to work out any differences,” he said. “I see absolutely no limitations.”
“It was really a confident answer from Trump,” said Graham. “I think that’s typically what you hear politicians saying. They say, ‘We’re allies, and we won’t have a disagreement.’ But I don’t know whether that, in fact, is true, and how close the sides really are on Huawei.” He added that intelligence has historically been one of the key areas of collaboration between the U.S. and the UK.
At the end of last month, Theresa May announced that she intends to resign her position on June 7.
Trump said both Boris Johnson, currently a member of the British Parliament’s House of Commons, and Jeremy Hunt, the country’s foreign secretary, would make good successors to May.
For full interview click here.